…if the Dodgers could have kept Roberto Clemente and signed Ted Williams.
As most of you might already know, Roberto Clemente signed with the Dodgers for $10,000, but never got to play a single game in Brooklyn or Los Angeles.
A rule back then in effect required that any player signed for more than $4000 had to stay on the parent club for a full season. At that time, the Dodgers had a great team and there was nowhere to place the 18 year old Clemente. The Dodgers attempted to keep Clemente’s profile low, but the keen eye of the Pittsburgh Pirates general manager knew Clemente and he was selected by the Pirates for $4,000 on Nov. 22, 1954.
What I never heard before, was the story of how Ted Williams said that he would have liked to be a Dodger. From the Aug 20, 1940 issue of the Dubuque, Iowa Telegraph-Herald, Williams said “If I were a free agent and each major league club offered me identical contracts, I’d sign with the Dodgers… I know I’d be a hero in Brooklyn.”
Imagine the 1950’s Dodgers with Williams in left, Snider in center and Furillo in right field. Williams could have played in Los Angeles in the 1959 World Series and ended his career in LA in 1960. Then, with Clemente maturing, the 1960’s Dodgers would have been much stronger with Roberto a fixture in right field. I liked Ron Fairly, but Ron Fairly was no Roberto Clemente.
Woulda, coulda, shoulda.